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The Battle: Batman v Superman Review (Spoiler Free)


Rather than go through the plot of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the way some reviewers do, I want to talk about my reaction to and thoughts about the movie, and talk about some of the noise surrounding this film's release. 

I really love the Batman character, which isn't saying a lot; he's probably the most popular comic book superhero out there. People like the hero and I think they like how he is just a man, no superpowers, but someone who wants to help the victims of criminals in a city gone mad. 

Not me. Not entirely.

What I like about Batman is that, yes, he's a badass, but I like the darkness of the character, a man in pain, a man who is incredibly smart, but also incredibly troubled. I mean, he dresses up like a bat and fights crime. He's trained himself for this and he puts himself in a lot of danger in order to fight the ghosts of his parents' deaths. In a lot of ways, he's still the little boy standing there in shock after watching his parents be murdered. He's Hamlet and he's Sherlock Holmes. What he does isn't so much motivated by justice as it is driven by revenge.

And that's where he and Superman, in the comic books, have always had an issue with each other.

The Dark Knight trilogy was an excellent series. I wasn't crazy about the third movie, The Dark Knight Rises, but the second, The Dark Knight, was amazing. Of course, that was almost 100% because of Heath Ledger's Joker, and less because of Christian Bale's Batman. The first one in the trilogy, Batman Begins, was really good, too. I really enjoyed it, far more than the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher films, that got very cartoony. The trilogy was serious and dark and much more Batman. But here's the thing:

That wasn't the Batman from the comics.

I appreciated those movies and have seen them several times (I only watched Rises twice. I really wasn't a fan.) but I always took the series to be this: Christopher Nolan took the character of Batman and shaped him to be somebody in more of a real world than a representation of the comic book character. He based a lot of the ideas on Frank Miller's Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, but not the character himself.

In the trilogy, Bruce Wayne is a good guy who uses his brains, brawn, money, and talent to fight crime. He is trying to further the legacy of his father in helping to restore Gotham City. And he's so nice. He has a rule: Never kill. Again, I enjoy this, but it's not Batman.

Zach Snyder/Ben Affleck's version in BvS was very much Batman. Dark, angry, haunted, suspicious to almost paranoid. He's still in the moment of his parents' murders. He has no life except for this, and for God's sake, he has no freaking love interest. (If you didn't know, Rachel Dawes from the trilogy is not a comic book character. She was created especially for the films)

I bring this up because I know a lot of people who have or will watch this film, do not have this understanding of Batman, which is fine, but it's where I loved it while a lot of people maybe didn't. Brooding? Yes. That's Batman. You're not going to get a lot of quick-witted Robert Downey Jr lines.

Also, a thing that has thrown people, especially those who haven't seen the movie, is this idea that Batman could ever stand a chance fighting Superman. They think that, rightfully so, a Man of Steel with heat laser vision, who can fly and stop bullets is no match for a human being. An excellent point.

Except these guys have been in battle against each other a few times in the comics, most famously in The Dark Knight Returns. Batman is a dangerous person in that he is paranoid and cunning and at one point in the comics, he gets kicked out of the Justice League when they find out that he has a plan in place to destroy each of its members. Why does he have these plans? Well, just in case any of them go rogue. As I said a few paragraphs ago, he's paranoid.

You might say, "Hey, Primo! Are we reviewing a film here or the legacy of Batman?! And you may have noticed that there was that guy Superman and Wonder Woman, too."

You're right. I'm getting to that. I just wanted to set the stage of what I liked about this movie, which was far from perfect. It was dark and serious. Where the Marvel movies are action movies with superheroes, this movie was a comic book story put on the big screen. Unimportant to a lot of people, in case you haven't seen how divisive the reactions to this film are, who just want to watch guys kick ass for a couple of hours. This movie is more story and less action, also a turn-off for some, but very appreciated by me.

Everyone wanted this film to be a match for the Marvel films. I'll be honest with you, aside from the first Iron Man movie and the first Avengers movie, I didn't care for the Marvel movies. Too cartoony and too formulaic. 

My review of this movie has to be brief - even if the preamble wasn't - because I don't want to give anything away. So here goes.

I liked this film, I didn't exactly love this film. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. But, I really enjoyed it and I plan on seeing it again in the theater very soon. The casting was excellent, with the exception of Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, which has been a point of contention since Man of Steel. I found his acting to be too over the top, and.....well, he's just not Lex Luthor.

I loved how haunted Bruce Wayne was in this. There are a few nightmare sequences to drive this home. One of them is a little bizarre and seems forced, but I loved the concept. As I have said, this Batman is Batman, and Ben Affleck does a great job portraying him accurately, but credit also has to go to the screenwriter Chris Terrio (Argo) and Snyder for painting him this way.

Wonder Woman is sort of a mystery and you don't see much of her in this movie. But I was so intrigued by her that I can't wait for a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie. When she shows up, she really shows up to help the title characters take on a creature known as Doomsday. (In the comics, he killed Superman.) I like that. I like that she wasn't just some supporting member of the title heroes.

But, as I said, this film isn't perfect. It has some issues.

The story is a little convoluted, especially for people who don't have the background knowledge I have spent several paragraphs describing. (And, hopefully, now you know why.) And the whole Doomsday sequence was a little too CGI-y for me. I'll be honest, they lost me there. I thought it was the low point of the movie.

I've already complained about Lex Luthor, who was a little more crazy and a little less diabolical. 

I also think the movie was a little undermined by the trailers. I loved them and they had me so hyped for the release of this, but they also did two things harmful: One, they gave away a lot of the good lines and good parts. I think the third trailer which shows Batman blocking a punch by Superman was important because of what I said before about people not understanding how this could be a match at all, but too many of the best parts of this movie were given away before you ever step into the theater.

Also, I think the trailers give expectations for a movie that didn't actually exist. It definitely seems, from the trailers, as an action movie with superhero characters. They really did little to show any of the story that was going to make up so much of the film. I definitely would have done them differently. Of course, they didn't ask me to, so I remain a guy who sits in a cubicle, punches away at a keyboard, and hates almost every minute of it.

What I did like about it, beyond the characters, is the serious tone of the film. There are a couple of action sequences that are amazing. Unfortunately, the most amazing part of the film shows up in a trailer. Again, that's sort of annoying as I knew it was coming and knew how it was going to look. Still, it didn't stop me and many in the theater from reacting excitedly when it happened.

I liked the Superman character, who was a little more complex than just some kid from a farm in Kansas by way of Krypton fighting for truth, justice, and the American Way. Amy Adams plays a strong Lois Lane, which I really appreciated. Jeremy Irons does an awesome job as Alfred, sarcastic and humorous, but also critical of Bruce Wayne.

I think this is a good set-up for coming movies. (How much better it would have been as a Netflix series than a movie! Then they wouldn't have had to cram so much stuff into 151 minutes.)(While I'm on this subject, I have criticized Marvel movies, but I love what they did with Daredevil. I still haven't finished the second season, but the first season of Daredevil would have been a great model for a Justice League series.) This was a movie that, because it had so much going on, took some time for me to absorb the whole thing.

Should you see it? Well, that depends on what you're looking for. If you want to watch a DC version of a Marvel movie, then skip it. Marvel has Captain America: Civil War coming out May 6th. Wait for that. I'm sure it will be all big action and explosions and all of the things casual fans tend to love.

But I say go see it. It's a movie, for crying out loud. Such weight is a little ridiculous. If you like it, you like it. If you don't, you don't. People debate this movie like we're talking politics or religion. Just know what you're getting into, as I hope I have helped explained in this article.
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